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You got the new job — now run with it

Thursday, April 04, 2013   (0 Comments)
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By Jo Miller

I recently spoke with a c-level leader from the retail industry about the importance of quickly getting "the lay of the land” when coming into a new position. "The first step that I take when taking on a new assignment or a new project is what I call ‘surveying the landscape,’” she said. "I study my surroundings and I try to understand the people and processes that drive value in that particular area.”

Here are three steps to take to quickly survey the landscape when you start a new role:

1. Find someone with organizational savvy. Find someone who is well regarded and well networked in your new group and ask if you can schedule some time to talk. The person may be your new manager or someone who appears to have some influence in the team. Let her know you appreciate how knowledgeable and well connected she is and that you would appreciate some advice as you begin your new role. Review the organization chart with them and ask: Who are the key stakeholders I should get to know? Who else do I need to introduce myself to? What questions should I ask them?

Create a checklist of names and create a plan to connect with each person in your first month on the job.

2. Become the go-to person. Before you set out to meet those key people, develop a 30-second commercial that concisely explains your role, your responsibilities and how you can be of help. Share your name, your new job title and what you are responsible for (share three concise bullet points that describe your role).

Encourage the person to go directly to you whenever he or she needs to (share three more concise bullet points that describe the reasons why this person should seek you out).

Share your 30-second commercial at every opportunity as a way of educating others about your new role, the value that you add and why they should come to you. Use it when you introduce yourself to the key people on your networking list and then ask how you can help each other.

Speak it with confidence. By consistently introducing yourself in this way you can shape how others perceive you in your new role and set yourself up as a credible authority and go-to expert.

3. Embark on a listening tour. Start your new role with a "listening tour” by connecting with every individual on your list of key stakeholders. The purpose is not just to introduce yourself, but to have a purposeful and educational discussion with each one of them in your first month in the job. Listen for any tips on how you can make the greatest impact in your role.

In each conversation, discuss ways you can help each other. But listen for additional information that will help you uncover the people and processes that really drive value. Gather intelligence on these categories:

  • Informational powerhouses. These are individuals who keep a finger on the pulse of what is going on in the organization, the industry and the broader business environment. By tapping their knowledge of historical data and emerging trends you will soon find yourself empowered to make better business decisions more quickly.
  • Influencers. Listen for the key people of influence – those who have an enhanced ability to lead change and make things happen. They are not necessarily found in high-level or high-profile positions; pay attention to who holds influence regardless of their job title. Try to understand where influence is held in your new organization. Notice which way influence flows in the relationships surrounding you in your new team. Is it flowing in the traditional top-down manner? Or are there people who are equally able to influence each other? Are there any of those rare individuals who have the ability to "manage upward” and influence their management?
  • Coalitions. Look for groups of people who have formed groups that work together effectively and freely share information, resources and opportunities. Ask yourself, "What do they have in common? What is the social glue that binds this group together?” This will give you insight into working more effectively with those groups and individuals.

Don’t spend your first month mastering the tasks listed on your job description. By taking time to build relationships, listen and get the lay of the land, you will gain confidence and momentum more rapidly in your new role.

Jo Miller, CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching Inc., facilitates the NEW Leadership Academy webinars designed to help Network of Executive Women members build core skills and prepare for top management roles in their organizations.

Views expressed in signed blogs and user comments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its Officers, Board members and sponsors.

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